05 Mar 2019

Finding confidence through sport

Sasha Dikotla, a talented 16-year-old hockey player on the Investec sports development programme, on why young girls should be introduced to sport.

Education

Grade 11, St Mary’s School 

Highest hockey accomplishment

U16 South African women's hockey team

See Sasha in action

At the St Mary's Investec Hockey Festival, 3-7 April 2019

Sasha Dikotla is a talented hockey player who was discovered age 14 while at provincial trials. She was offered an Investec “Developing Women in Sport” scholarship to St Mary’s, a top Johannesburg private school. She was awarded half colours this year for her selection in the U16 SA team, and for playing for the 1st team at school from grade 10. She tells us more about her journey thus far, and what she hopes to achieve in the future.

 

How did you end up at St Mary’s?

 

In Grade 8, while at Crawford College, I tried out for the Gauteng provincial team, and once I made it in, I was scouted and asked if I was interested in coming to St Mary’s as part of a sports development programme funded by Investec. I started here at the beginning of Grade 9, two years ago.

 

How did you get into playing hockey?

 

When I got to Crawford I’d never heard of hockey and I thought it looked interesting, but I wasn’t fully convinced. My mom was very overprotective, and worried I’d get hit with the ball or stick! However one of the coaches convinced me to try the sport, and I’m so glad they did.

 

What has sport taught you about life?

 

I’m a really shy person, with not a lot of confidence when it comes to speaking to people. But I’d urge young kids to play sport, because it gives you loads of opportunities. When you make provincial and club teams, you get to meet a lot of new people (whether it’s players or coaches), which helps build your confidence.

 

Sport also teaches you determination. When I arrived at St Mary’s I expected to make it into the 1st team, but was surprised at how high the hockey standards were, and I only made the second team. I set a goal to make first team by Grade 10, which I succeeded in doing.

Sasha Dikotla
Sasha Dikotla, Grade 11 learner, St Mary’s School

Stay true to yourself, don’t let people walk over you, be confident in what you do, and do it well.

What are your plans for the future?

 

Last year I was chosen to play for the U16 SA team, comprised of the best players from the 24 provincial teams. The SA U18 play three tournaments against Australia, and this is my big ambition right now, to make it into that U18 team.

 

Following that, I aim to eventually play for the South African national side and then get a hockey bursary at an overseas institution in the UK or Canada. It’s always been a goal for me to study overseas and then return to South Africa later in life.  

 

When it comes to hockey in South Africa, what would you like to see improved?

 

I would like to see a lot more diversity in the sport. Because even now, while they’ve been trying to make it more diverse, it’s just not happening fast enough. Businesses should be striving for diversity, but so should sporting organisations, because sport is a great way to understand each other and learn about leadership and communication. I also think that women’s sports, and specifically women’s hockey, needs a lot more public support and funding, like male-dominated sports receive.

 

Who are the women in your life who have most influenced you?

 

My mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother, and Maya Angelou. I was born in Johannesburg, but my family is originally from Limpopo. Coming to St Mary’s was a really big adjustment for me, because I’d never been in a school like this before. So it would have been easy to change myself, but all the women in my family told me to remain true to who I was, because that’s what got me there.

 

My mother is a single parent but even though she’s so busy, she’s really supported my hockey and schoolwork, and I’m really grateful for her involvement in my life. My great grandmother passed away three years ago. She was the one who told me to stay true to myself, to not let people walk over me, to be confident in what I do, and to do it well. She also reminded me never to take anything for granted, so that’s what I aim to do - every day.

 

Women on the rise

Read more inspirational stories from Investec women in sport.